Sandro do Nascimento began his life in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Like most other kids living in poverty, Sandro was exposed to continual violence and governmental corruption. Upon witnessing the gruesome murder of his mother, Sandro was forced to pursue the life of a ‘street-kid.’ Fending for himself in the streets, he was constantly the victim of police brutality and unethical prison treatment. As things got worse for Sandro, he decided to take hostages on a bus in Rio de Janeiro; the film Bus 174 replays various scenes from the incident, as well consulting members of Sandro’s life to help determine why he decided to react in such a violent way. Without any evidence from Sandro himself, it is impossible to truly know what his intentions were with Bust 174, but it is clear that governmental oppression, his life in poverty, and society’s tendency to overlook the misfortunate were all key factors in his actions.
Alberto Ramos’s The Drive-by Victim in an excellent example of one of the many outcomes of vast poverty within a community. Ramos describes a night he was robbed by a taxi driver and two accomplices. Although the narrative leaves the reader in a state of sorrow for Ramos, one must also understand that Ramos is not the only victim in this situation. On page 138, Ramos helps the reader come to the conclusion that the robbers had no other choice, they were forced to live a criminal lifestyle because of the lack of opportunity offered to them in all aspects of life. This scenario can definitely be related to Sandro’s predicament as well. Like the robbers, Sandro had no opportunity to advance socioeconomically and was forced to live in a state of oppression; he could not even beg on the streets without the possibility of being beaten to death in a situation similar to the murder of his friends at the Candelaria massacre.
Upon looking at a simple map or picture of Brazil, one may be left wondering why there is so much poverty in a land with seemingly unlimited opportunities. Although this is a difficult question with a far more complex answer, it can partially be attributed to the imperialistic and capitalist philosophies of countries such as the United States of America. In Alma Guillermorprieto’s The Heart that Bleeds – Mexico City, 1992, she describes this topic from a different perspective. She mentions the McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chickens that are scattered about, contributing to the loss of Mexican culture. America’s economic interests have taken Mexico over and contributed to the massive poverty in Latin America all while keeping the rich and governmental officials happy. With that being said, it is clear that it was not necessarily a psychological issue that caused Sandro’s violence like many believe; it was more of a miserable attempt to limit the oppression he had faced his entire life.
It may be a bold statement to say that Sandro did not suffer from a ‘mental illness’ but in actuality, any mental illness he may have suffered from was imposed on him by the people he tormented the most on the day of the incident. The hostages were not the main victims on the day of the Bust 174 innocent, the entire Rio de Janeiro government system was the biggest loser because it took such violent circumstances to help reveal some of their problems. But instead of thanking the man and giving him the help he greatly needed, they decided to further their injustices by giving him a torturous death.